However, man I was glad I just opted for a coffee at the foyer kiosk as it must have been torture for the people cradling bags of popcorn with the film something of an immersive experience.
You see, the slightest sound in the post-apocalyptic world we are presented with will send a scavenging alien straight to your door. Even the most minute and never-heard-before strange sucking noise of my fellow cinema goers attempting to consume their food would have meant certain death. They would have been goners.
Sales of the stentorian snacks must be down and people have reportedly been shamed for eating, coughing, even breathing too loudly during the screenings. My advice? Save your tenner – or whatever a dozen multiplex kernels cost these days – and get a little more peace for 90 minutes…but not too much.
So these creatures, which we glimpse only in alarming flashes for the first hour, have no other senses at their disposal. You could shine a torch into their faces, vape into their toothy maws and no harm would arise. Put the batteries back in your toy space shuttle, however, and they will rock up in a split second and want to tear you to shreds. They have the hearing your mother or father had when you tried to creep back in really, really late/early after a night out. Terrifying.
The Abbott family are well aware of the predicament they find themselves and now have staying alive down to a fine art.
Directed and co-written by John Krasinski, he also stars as patriarch Lee with his real-life partner in crime Emily Blunt playing his on-screen wife Evelyn. There is touching and tender chemistry as a result.
They have three children to protect in this nightmarish scenario, but the five have been drilled to military precision about the dangers and how to navigate them to stay intact.
Because the eldest Regan, played by deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, has always been without hearing, it is implied that, in the years since the invasion, they may have enjoyed a kind of evolutionary advantage in outwitting their predators. Most of American society, on the other hand, has simply been too helplessly loud, too incapable of shutting up, to find safety. Sign language has proved a life-saver.
The family have built a farm hideout in a wooded valley, near a grain silo and a corn field – both disturbing additions to any film as in my book they usually signal something bad is going to happen.
The survival systems in place are complex; there is an elaborate set of warning beacons rigged up outside. They pad around barefoot on man-made sand paths and food, none of it crunchy, is eaten without plates or glassware, simply hand to mouth. In the basement, forbidden to the kids, Lee tries to make radio contact via foreign frequencies and experiments on new hearing aids for his daughter.
Evelyn is pregnant (yes, what on earth were they thinking?!) and the advent of a squalling child is obviously going to pose some extra challenges. Without giving anything away, the timing and circumstances of her labour – in a bath, under significant threat – are about the worst a film character has ever had to endure, with a midwife who possesses the most vile bedside manner imaginable.
Blunt rises to the occasion with a performance that’s exhaustingly credible, as Evelyn devotes every ounce of her energy into stifling her agony, buying herself more time.
An exposed rusty nail on the basement steps, thus far unnoticed, is a potentially mortal enemy. And then you find out the tulip-headed monsters can swim. For goodness sake!
We get to know what level of tiny whispering the family can get away with when a knocked lantern spells disaster and why yelling under a waterfall is perfectly fine.
In terms of the proposition, the stakes and the execution, Krasinski has struck gold with such a simple yet great idea. The dialogue won’t startle you, but the quiet, dramatic tension in this game of hide and seek will.